The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued a series of guidelines for restarting manufacturing industries after the lockdown period. Certain economic activities have already been allowed on gradual lifting of restrictions in some zones.
Instructions have been issued on safekeeping of hazardous and flammable materials. Guidelines also pertain to chemical disasters, management of chemical (terrorism) disasters, and strengthening of safety and security for transportation of Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL) tankers.
The State governments have been told to ensure, through the district officials concerned, that the off-site disaster management plan of the respective Major Accidental Hazard (MAH) units are up-to-date.
Test run period
“While restarting the unit, consider the first week as the trial or test run period; ensure all safety protocols; and try not to achieve high production targets,” said the order, adding that employees be sensitised to identify abnormalities such as strange sounds or smell, exposed wires, vibrations, leaks, smoke, abnormal wobbling, irregular grinding or other potentially hazardous signs requiring urgent attention.
All lockout and tag-out procedures should be in place on a daily basis (not applicable for units running 24 hours). The equipment are to be inspected as per safety protocols. The units should approach local district administration for specific assistance.
“District Magistrates may be instructed to ensure that in such instances, the industrial unit may be facilitated to run their end-to-end operations, in the overall interests of industrial security,” the order said.
Specific orders have been given on storage of raw material, manufacturing processes, storage of products and functioning of workers, besides physical and social distancing measures.
Storage facilities have to be inspected for any signs of spills, wear and tear. “Check for already opened storage vessels, containers, bags or silos for possible oxidation/chemical reaction/rusting/ rotting etc. HAZMAT chemicals in the storage need to be checked for chemical stability before using for any processes,” said the order.
Before entering the storage areas, proper ventilation and lighting has to be ensured. They should be examined for any sign of damage. Supply pipelines, valves or conveyor belts should to be checked for any issues.
Complete safety audit
The owners should get done a complete safety audit of the entire unit, clean pipelines, equipment and discharge lines as per set procedure, run rotatory equipment under supervision, and check boilers, furnaces or heat exchangers for lining and signs of wear and tear. All pressure and temperature gauges should be functional.
“Many process units handle combustibles or toxic substances (or both), the leakage of which could result in disaster, damage, or economic loss...it is necessary to confirm that the plant complies with the required tightness before start-up,” said the order. All water, compressed air, and steam piping and equipment with normal operating fluids should be checked for any leak.
“Ensure the arrangement for round-the-clock emergency crews/professional technical teams provided with MAH and cluster of MAH should have an extended coverage of 200 km to reach transport accident spots for help,” it said.
The employers should provide hand santisers, masks, face protection shields and PPEs, ensure 24-hour sanitisation of the factory premises, accommodation of workers should also be sanitised regularly, and their temperature checked twice a day. Those showing symptoms should not report to work.
The staff should be educated on COVID-19 health and prevention, quarantine measures for supply and storage of goods, isolation and sanitisation of finished goods and delivery of goods in shifts.
Barriers should be created to ensure the physical distance within the work floor and dining facilities. Work should be in shifts. The factories operating round-the-clock at full production capacity should consider one-hour gap between shifts, except for units requiring continuous operations.
Managerial and administrative staff should work one shift at 33% capacity; but overriding priority should be given to those dealing with safety. The employees should not share tools or workstations to the extent possible.
Factories have to prepare accommodation to isolate workers, if needed. The HR has to help manage the whole process for the individual. All travelling employees have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.